Bonding & Not Bonding & how it’s all okay.

by heirtoblair on July 25, 2012

newbornharry Bonding & Not Bonding & how it’s all okay.

The topic for this month is bonding with a newborn. Oof. Y’all, I’m going to be honest & say that this topic is knocking me off my feet & leaving me rather speechless because I just don’t remember.

I don’t remember because I was sick & I don’t remember because I didn’t do it, but I’ve come too far to feel ashamed by that confession. I look at new mothers with their babies & the way they smile happily. It feels so warm & I feel this sense of hollowness, like I was robbed or like I missed out. It’s a sense of mourning – a brief, quiet mourning, a sense of loss that cannot be recovered. I’m healthy enough to not let it get under my skin, but the months where I was supposed to literally ache for my newborn are simply nonexistent in my life.

Harrison & I made up for it & we make up for it every day now, so really, I’m okay. I just don’t have tips for how to do it. I don’t have advice on new babies other than hey, talk to someone if you don’t feel that great on the inside & it gets better after nine months. But the things I wish I did, the things I dream about doing differently next time?

Those are the new thoughts that fill my dreams.

Wrapping my new baby in a sling or wrap, close to my heartbeat. Leaning down to sniff the wisps of hair. Kneeling by the bathtub every night & letting the tiny bubbles & warm water wash the day away for both of us. Taking more pictures. Dressing him in snuggly outfits & then settling in for a nap with him. Holding him, always holding him. Telling him how loved he is, how perfect & wanted & oh, so wanted he is. Moments & hours in the nursery, rocking & singing & not caring that it is 3am because I’m rocking my baby.

I hope it will be that way. I hope that motherhood will consume me in the greatest way possible the next time, that I will have tips & tricks rather than just saying, “Hey momma, it’s all going to be okay. You’ll bond eventually.?

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristina July 25, 2012 at 6:21 pm

I really think you bonded more than you realize. You fed, bathed, held, rocked, and even if it was all just kind of mechanical (that’s how it felt to me w PPD after my first) you still did it and Harrison couldn’t tell a difference :)

I didn’t have any PPD at all with my second, and while, yes, it was magical and warm and wonderful, I still HATED being awake with a crying baby at 3am :)

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Maija @ Maija's Mommy Moments July 25, 2012 at 6:21 pm

Sending (((HUGS))) because you’re one amazing momma.

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Arnebya July 25, 2012 at 7:02 pm

But you did bond eventually. Hold onto that; it’s your truth. The things you want to do differently are only apparent to you, BA. Harrison was a baby and I don’t buy into that lack of bonding. He didn’t feel unloved, I guarantee you. His needs were being met and you are hella tight now, so…sure you may wish for those things, but guess what? Baby #2 might hate the hell out of a sling.

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Jamie @ Laughter Ever After July 25, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Oh my word I’m so glad you wrote this post. I remember whispering to my mom the hours after my son was born: “I just don’t feel like I think I’m supposed to feel …” and that continued for almost a year. I’m still not where you are, though. I still get very sad when I think about what we missed out on during the majority of his first year. I hope I’m able to connect with our second baby much sooner.

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angela July 25, 2012 at 8:43 pm

I hope for you that you get the things you want the second time, even the loving the middle of the night rockings :) You rock for always, always being honest about what you went through and how far you’ve come.

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Julia July 25, 2012 at 9:42 pm

I don’t think there is a set path to the perfect experience of motherhood. You never know what others are thinking- those mommys that were so happy in the way beginning might secretly feel connection with their toddler. And from what I’ve heard, we all feel that way as soon they turn 13. You are a wonderful example of not dwelling on what you think you missed, celebrating the amazing experience now.

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Ali @thecoffeeqween July 25, 2012 at 10:00 pm

Having my 3rd recently I have those moments where I feel not as connected to Callen bc I have a 5 and 2 year old to deal with. I can’t nap with him and snuggle all day with him. But then I say something and I see him look for me and smile and I know he knows my love. I don’t care if you’ve have Ppd/Ppa at some point you feel a disconnect. It may not be as drastic or long as you had but we all feel that and can in some way empathize. I agree even though you didn’t make newborn memories you bonded in that you provided and cared for Harrison. You are a great mom keep it up and each time is different.

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Christina July 25, 2012 at 11:06 pm

You’ll get your chance to have that bond. And you’ll still be riddled with mom guilt that you didn’t make the most of it, or you didn’t photograph it, or make a baby book , or keep the first curl, or remember is first word… it’s just another form of mom torture, and yours is only more easy to pinpoint because there’s a medical term for it.
what’s my excuse? I-suck-a-biggass?

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Lacey July 25, 2012 at 11:16 pm

“God Bless you for the honesty” is all I could think the entire time I read this post. You’ve come so far and you’re in a much healthier, better place than you were back then. And others are right, you still have an amazing bond with H, you’ve overcome it all to make damn sure you do and for that,more an amazing mom.

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Lena July 26, 2012 at 2:06 am

I only opened this post a second time to look at Harry’s sweet little head! What a doll!

Also you guys are great parents and Hibby doesn’t know the difference between you not feeling bonded, because he felt bonded to you. Thank you for bringing some normalcy to PPD. I found your blog when I needed it the most suffering my own anxiety daemons.

Thank you BA

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Aleta July 26, 2012 at 7:56 am

Great post. I have been lucky and have been PPD free, but I can’t say I am ever EXCITED about being up at 3 am :) I agree with another poster, with the second you heap guilt on yourself for not spending enough time with the baby, or your firstborn, etc. We moms are experts at that it seems like. Not sure what I’m here to say except don’t get down on yourself when #2 comes along, because even without PPD you still won’t feel all puppies and unicons all the time. It’s ok to look forward to the future when they sleep a little more, it doesn’t mean you’re wishing the baby days away. Parenting is hard! :)

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Becky @ From Ministry to Motherhood July 26, 2012 at 9:08 am

You bonded. You didn’t bond in the ‘puffy pink heart’ bonding way that we so often hear about but you bonded, don’t let anyone take that away from you. When I look at Harrison’s face while he smiles at you in pictures it is apparent. When I think about how hard to fought to overcome PPD I can see that you wanted to be well for him and your husband. You bonded as a family and fought hard to come back to them. I hope you realize that you bonded, that you are tight and that you will never embrace 3 am as a wonderful time {unless your a sick and twisted individual :) }.

We hear about how things should be but we forget to celebrate how things are. You are entwined, celebrate that.

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Andrea July 26, 2012 at 9:20 am

I didnt have PPD but I truly dont feel like I had that “bonding experience” either. I feel a weight of guilt every time that I’m not home for bedtime now (shes 2 1/2) because of work or me-time. I know just how you feel…and being pregnant again, I’m nervous that I wont have that the secont time around because I have a (almost) 3 year old to worry about as well. Its all a rollercoaster and we’re just doing our best! xoxo

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Tara July 26, 2012 at 9:50 am

I can relate and have similar hopes for our next baby. Thanks for reminding me that I’m not the only one that had a sucky time bonding with my newborn. It’s nice to know I wasn’t the only one that missed out on those things. I’m a pretty kick ass Mom now though–it just took a little longer than some! :)

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Casey July 26, 2012 at 9:59 am

Preach It sister! You are not alone in those thoughts and feelings. I’m right there with you.

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Katie July 26, 2012 at 12:22 pm

I feel like I could have written all of this. It IS going to be so much better next time. And I know you know this, but really, don’t beat yourself up about what could have been. You have the bond now, the heart bursting and overflowing. It’s there now, and it was there then too, it was just overtaken by something out of your control.

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Shirley July 26, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Thank you for writing this. I couldn’t sympathize more. I know now that there are lots of new moms that go through this exact same scenario and it only helps more to speak out about it, because the *worst* possible feeling you can have when you are thinking these things is that you’re all alone in your feelings.

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Mary July 26, 2012 at 3:19 pm

I have never posted before, but I read your blog faithfully. I just want to say I know exactly how you feel. I had PPD the first time around with my 3 year old son, and now have a 5 month old baby girl. I have had an amazing connection to her since the minute she was placed on my chest, and it has only gotten better every day. I love my son to death, but it took a very long time for me to feel that motherly bond with him. You aren’t alone in wanting a better experience the 2nd time!
P.S. Your blog is what helped me realize I had PPD and to eventually get some treatment :)

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Lindsay July 26, 2012 at 3:42 pm

I’m going to be really honest and hopefully help let you off the hook a little bit. That beautiful paragraph you wrote above about what you dream of with another newborn..

…as beautiful as that paragraph is, the newborn experience is really not like that, regardless of the mental state of the parent. Maybe the first few days, where endorphins are high and adrenaline is pumping.. but after that, it’s more like a fight for survival. Breastfeeding is exhausting initially, and then the 8pm witching hours of fussiness set in at 6 weeks. You’re having nightsweats & later dealing with postpartum weight loss and the fact that there is not a SINGLE PAIR of jeans in the entire universe that is made to fit your Mike Wazowski-like body. Are there some moments of peace? Absolutely. But if I look back on that time, I think I bonded with my daughter more over how much I was willing to do for her (and how much sanity & peace I willfully gave up.)

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Amy July 26, 2012 at 9:45 pm

I’ve seen your bond with Harrison. It’s there. It’s lovely and true and beautiful. It it wasn’t for you BA, I wouldn’t have gotten the help I needed to bond with Charlotte. You are helping so many people with posts like this. I love you! ::hugs::

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Jen B July 27, 2012 at 9:30 am

I had PPD and don’t feel like I bonded with my daughter until about 9 months. She’s two now and I “thought” I was at peace with and accepted it for what it was, but reading this still brings tears to my eyes so I guess I’m not as okay with it as I thought. She’s totally a mama’s girl now, so she must be okay with it ;)

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Teri July 29, 2012 at 12:43 pm

I love your words and your honesty, I also hurt for your heart ache. Your honest posts helped me recognize my own PPD after my second baby. They also made me feel less alone and less crazy because you had been so open.
Thank you!

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Debbie August 1, 2012 at 7:31 pm

It’s amazing how our expectations get set as new mothers for the things that are “supposed” to happen, and it’s supposed to all come naturally or there’s something “wrong” with you. And it’s even more amazing how no one talks about the parts of pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, motherhood, and parenting that everyone knows are difficult and are so very common. Why is that? Why do we continue to mislead each other? Thank you Beth Anne for being open and honest about something that SO MANY other women struggle with alone when in reality they are NOT alone! Bonding isn’t *always* easy or automatic even without the additional complication of PPD, just like breastfeeding or whatever isn’t *always* easy or automatic. Why do we pretend that it is? Motherhood is messy and painful and draining and even difficult (yes, yes and wonderful and beautiful, blah blah). I just wish we could stop beating ourselves up and stop beating each other up when we somehow don’t meet those unrealistic expectations of “perfect” or when something doesn’t come as easily to you as it did to someone else. NO MATTER WHAT, you will be a wonderful mother and your child will love you!!

And if you haven’t seen this video about parenting taboos, check it out: http://www.ted.com/talks/rufus_griscom_alisa_volkman_let_s_talk_parenting_taboos.html

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Amber November 12, 2012 at 1:43 pm

First let me say, I am glad I came across your blog. Its so honest and refreshing! Second, I suffered from PPD with my little guy and I hated that I felt that way. I remember at one point I loathe that fact that he was even here! And while I breast fed for a year, I never felt that bonding experience that everyone talks about. I just looked at as a way to nourish his body. but I love my little guy to death and so happy that he’s here. But I do wish that I could have experience that instant love and nurturing the first few months but hey, like the previous posters said, it eventually came. And I guess that’s all that matters in the end. When he gives me hugs and lays his head in my lap. I know I’m heading in the right direction. Thank you again for posting and making other mothers like me feel okay and normal.

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mandy @ this girl's life January 8, 2013 at 2:46 pm

I can relate so much to this…I had the same issue not being able to bond with my boys. It took a few weeks, switching to formula, and getting back on my anxiety meds to be able to handle motherhood. I was a mess. Of course I had twins my first time around so I was screwed. ;) But now they are 4 and motherhood is really wonderful. Sometimes I do dream about having another and hoping it would be the way you described. It is hard to think back on those first few weeks. Thanks for sharing this …I shared my very similar story on my blog too. It is really important for moms to know that it isn’t always rainbows and unicorns. :)

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Danielle Gallinaro April 12, 2013 at 4:26 pm

I came across your blog and this post is so real to me. I too had PPD after I had my daughter and could relate to every sentence of this post. Thank you for being honest and for being real.

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Heather B September 18, 2014 at 11:35 am

Bonding for me actually started during pregnancy. Not completely naturally, though, but somewhat intentionally. I was very ill during my pregnancy with my son, but we began the bonding process by regularly reading a week-by-week development book. It is truly amazing to track the miracle that is taking place. It really made a difference for me even after birth. Now, there are a lot of great books and blogs out there to serve this purpose, but the one I’m reading now blows all the others away, and it’s great for every pregnancy, not just the first. Not only does it have even more development details than usual, and personalized, it has a section in it where you can journal or write letters to baby. It’s called “The Wonder Within You: celebrating your baby’s journey from conception to birth” by Carey Wickersham. It’s an awesome combination of week-to-week information, what’s going on with the baby, “Did you know?” plus health advice about what to eat, cravings, nutrition, etc, BUT also with awesome 3D/4D pictures and videos you can link or QR with your phone to and see what your baby looks like at each week stage. I’ve just not seen anything exactly like it! It’s got famous quotes and real mom stories, too. The pregnancy information is as up-to-date as it gets and it’s such a great keepsake. I want to get one for everybody I know who is expecting! I highly recommend it! http://www.TheWonderWithinYou.com.

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